THE GAY NEWS EDITORIAL COLLECTIVE
Richard Adams (Design), Martin Corbett, Ian Dunn (Scotland), Denis Lemon, Glenys Parry (Manchester), Suki J. Pitcher, Doug Pollard, David Seligman, Jean-Claude Thevenin
Julie Frist, Julian D. Grinspoon, Warren Hague, Peter Holmes, Alister McGregor, Richard Turner, Peter Waldschmidt.
GAY NEWS SPECIAL FRIENDS
Roger Baker, Ian D. Baker, Graham Chapman, John Chesterman, Denis Cohn, Lawrence Collinson, Brian Dax, Barry Conley, Martin Grant, Antony Grey, Peter MacMillan, Sylvia Room, Manus Sasonkin, David Sherlock, Mike Winters.
SPECIAL THANKS TO:
Andrew & Peter, Jane & Shaun, Richard & Norman, Ken & Allan, Michael, Angus & Ken and all the other Friends & Loved Ones.
|Ian Harvey||Page 4|
|Trolling in Tehran||Page 4|
|Pinups & Gay Politics||Page 5|
|“Queer” is how I feel||Page 5|
|Graham Chapman Interview||Page 6|
|Where is CHE?||Page 8|
|Biograph Review||Page 9|
|Personal Ads||Page 11|
Gay News is published fortnightly by Gay News Ltd., 19 London Street, London W2 1HL. Tel 01-402 7805.
Distribution: Us, You and a prayer book. Printed by F.I.Litho Limited, 182 Pentonville Road, London N1.
Gay News is the registered Trade Mark of Gay News Ltd.
As you will see on page three, Gay News went to the House of Commons to discuss the House of Lords’ decision in the International Times case with MPs and other interested people. Immediately the formal meeting ended, the seated rows broke up into absorbed small groups talking over all the aspects of the subject. These informal discussions went on until closing time in the St. Stephens Tavern, and Gay News talked to everyone. “This”, said the MP who organised the meeting, “is the real value of all these gas-works get-togethers.”
He is right — there was a thousand times more real communication in these informal talks than in the whole ‘get-the-attention-of-the-chairman-if-you-can-game’ we all sat through first. The important question is – why waste time playing these games? Apart from speech-making addicts, professional chairmen, and people who ease their liberal consciences by attending meetings and sitting silent, who really thinks that anything worthwhile is achieved by the submitting-your-question-in-proper-form game, or that old fun-trip, going-through-the-proper-channels?
Gay News tries to play only the minimum number of these games, those essential to getting the paper out – with the bank, for example, and the GPO. (Have you played what-to-do-if-your-telephone-is-being-tapped? Can anyone tell us the rules?) We deal as efficiently as possibly with these conventional business procedures, because the paper must be printed, paid for and distributed, but we waste no time on ‘correct’ business procedures, and even less on ‘correct’ business people, who seem to think it essential that a letter should sit on their desks for weeks before being attended to. Gay News belongs to everyone who reads it and works for it – and we make the decisions.
The point is that we think as individuals, and work as a group, without outside control. This gives us a ready answer to a recent Evening Standard editorial, referring to the printers’ strike (issue July 28): “What is the matter with the newspaper industry? Why was it not only the first but the only industry to shutdown for five days at a time of grave national crisis? Why do so many people who work in this industry – the highest paid in the country – seem to care so little about their work and their role in society that they are ready to withdraw their labour with such apparent indifference to the effects of their actions? … The loss of goodwill to the papers was vast, as advertisers and readers alike were driven to another means of communication.” We know what our work is; we chose it. And our role in society, whatever it is, is not that of a small cog in a large profit-making machine. And that last sentence quoted answers the Standard’s own question: what is wrong with the industry is that the advertisers come first, the money men – before the readers, and way ahead of those who actually do the work, including in most instances the journalists as well as the print workers.
As a fortnightly paper, we were not affected by the strike – (it was nice to see a paper rack in a straight newsagents displaying Gay News prominently, in the space usually occupied by The Times!). We may even have reached a few unsuspecting non-gay people: “Gay News No. 3? I’ll take double this time, love,” said a friendly newsman in High Street Ken. “Sold out the last one – well, people had to read something!” Sales of issue three are already up on the previous two – how long before we can increase our print order? We need more subscribers, more outlets, more workers, and more money, but we’re here, and we’re busy communicating. Every time you buy a copy, every letter and article you send us is part of the individual communication pattern we are building. Everyone we talk to about the gay world, every story we research, is another step towards breaking the barriers which keep gay people in hiding and the rest of the world in ignorance of the truth about homosexuals. It is on this level, with individuals telling it like it is, that progress is being made towards liberation (in the true sense of the word, not just as a slogan).
We know, too, that we must live with the imperfect present situation – one day, we won’t need to find each other through personal ads, but as things are now, this kind of contact is the only way for many gays. This is why we carry small ads, and we shall continue to do so. Another handicap we must fight is the different fears we all have of one kind or another. Some gays cannot tell their families; many fear police harassment, or victimisation at work; the activities of gay libbers who have ‘come out’ scare a lot of people, while those who are ‘out’ face daily hostility from the ignorant and cruel (who are often frightened and unsure of themselves). What we must learn and learn to rely on as a community, is that we have weapons with which to defend ourselves; there are ways of educating ourselves and those who misunderstand us; and, with a lot of help from our friends, the obstacles in our path can be overcome. The success or failure of Gay News depends on the individuals involved in the paper, and we all know it – how about extending this belief in individual responsibility and group co-operation to a few more of the situations we as homosexuals have to face? No one is ever going to find an easy solution to the problems of conditioning and ignorance which we face, and no doctors, or sociologists, or MPs, will ever solve the problems for us. We are the people who know the truth and, difficult though it is, we must make the attempt to communicate it.
Obviously, you can’t do things you are not into, and every individual must decide on his or her own action – but we must work out where we are at, together, and act accordingly if we are to remove the labels put on us by others, and win the freedom to which we are entitled. Perhaps our aim is similar to one stated by Jung: “to bring about a state in which v everyone) begins to experiment with his own nature – a state of fluidity, change and growth, in which there is no longer anything eternally fixed and hopelessly petrified”.
ALL LETTERS RECEIVED BY GAY NEWS ARE LIABLE TO BE PUBLISHED UNLESS YOU STATE OTHERWISE.
Dear Gay News,
Thanks for the first two issues of G.N., they were more professional-looking than I expected. Inevitably as a ‘straight gay type’ I find the extensive coverage given to the Rad. Femmes rather tedious but I daresay I’m in a minority there anyway.
I’m enclosing a cheque to help things along, hope plenty of other people are doing the same! Looking forward to bigger and better issues – keep it up (I meant the paper).
Leeds Gay Liberation Front,
153 Woodhouse Lane,
Leeds. Tel. 39071
Dear Gay News,
May we comment on the various articles concerning the Rad. Femme faction in London GLF? There are things happening in the Capital which give us cause for great concern. Most of all we are extremely worried at the prospect of GLF (or even our GLF group) being ‘captured’ by any faction whatsoever. GLF is a movement not an organisation – an organic entity rather than a closed structure with a unified ideology. In our present state of affairs that is, to say the least, a point of some tactical worth. We are aware that within one movement there are various political viewpoints — Liberal, Marxist, Radical, Feminist, Situationist – being expressed. We welcome this. We believe that a consideration of all our revolutionary theories and the establishment of a dialogue between the various points of view is of great service to our growth as people and as a movement. All this demands that we guard against a takeover (either practical or ideological) by any faction within the movement. If the London Rad. Femmes are attempting such a takeover they can be assured of our undying opposition.
We might add that the behaviour displayed to the sisters working on ‘Spare Rib’ shows a monstrous lack of solidarity. Surely we should not publicly criticise actions in other areas of struggle? Surely this sort of thing tends to suggest that the various people’s struggles are not linked to each other, when what we ought to be suggesting is that they are?
We are hoping that the alarms are exaggerated. If they are not we shall fight every attempt to wreck the gay movement, whoever it be made by.
Power to the People
Leeds GLF XXX
The Albany Trust,
32 Shaftesbury Avenue,
London W1V 8EP.
Thanks for asking me to tell you what I thought of your first two issues. It’s nice to be billed as a “Special Friend”, and I hope I’ll go on being that even if I’m a candid one as well! So here goes.
Well, I think your “egg” symbol just about sums it up – as the curate said, good in parts. Mostly very good. It looks good, feels good (full marks to your choice of paper, type and layout design) and a lot of it reads good; though I agree with your correspondent who pleads for a more wideawake proof-reader. You’ve elevated gay journalism head and shoulders above your oh-so-trivial predecessors and have given us, for the first time, a sincere, serious minded yet lively and entertaining newspaper by gay people.
I nearly added “for gay people”, but stopped short, saying to myself; “I hope not”. At least, I hope not just for gay people. For if Gay News is to fulfil its most sorely needed function, it will not only tell us more about ourselves but (and more importantly for the betterment of things) also really increase understanding of us in the non-gay world. What this movement needs most of all – and most urgently in Britain — is improved communications; amongst ourselves, yes, but primarily the initiation of a meaningful dialogue with the wider community, too many of whom view us through the distorting mirrors of myth, stereotype, ignorance and prejudice.
That’s why I very much hope you’ll keep your powder dry and not squander talent, energy, strength and hard-won bread tilting prematurely at windmills. For instance, I believe it’s more vitally important, for the sake of many thousands of gay people who don’t even know yet that you exist, to consolidate Gay News and ensure its regular publication and wide circulation, than to get caught up in a fruitless hassle with the more antiquated elements of the British establishment over such relative trivia as small ads.
Not that I think the recent ludicrous IT judgment can be allowed to stand – indeed it must be strenuously fought, and will be – but I want you to be around providing battle reports, not clobbered into silence.
Your wise philosophy of not forgetting that we’re all. whether gay or straight, people confronted with many of the same rather lousy human predicaments in our living and loving, I like. Your concept of Gay News belonging to all its readers, and not just to its regular writers, I like too – creeping censorship is the occupational disease of even the most conscientiously fair minded editors. Certainly I and, I hope, my friends and colleagues in Albany Trust, NFHO and elsewhere, will try to keep Gay News readers informed about what’s going on around our scenes. You’ve already shown quite a flair for lively reporting and trenchant comment. It’s clear that some of us won’t always be pleased at what we read, but where we disagree or feel mistranslated, I’m sure your columns will be impartially open to all coherent viewpoints.
Times change. Much of your VD article originally appeared a few years back as an Albany Trust pamphlet, and became a constant best seller. Yet an influential well-wisher criticised it as a great blunder because he thought it would spread the idea around that most homosexuals were promiscuous and probably disease-ridden. I said I hoped that any who were the former wouldn’t necessarily also be the latter, which was why the pamphlet was written. Thank goodness we can be more matter of fact now.
Two noticeable gaps. So far the world scene hasn’t featured except for the rather pointless piece about cottaging in Canada. Surely that’s not the most significant aspect of gay life there or anywhere else. It exists and needs reporting, I agree, but there’s so much else you haven’t yet touched upon which could have been featured first. Most of your readers won’t be aware at all of the existence of an influential homophile movement in North America and some European countries which has chalked up some really significant achievements in civil rights progress for gay people during the past 25 years. (The notion that campaigning for homophile recognition is something that didn’t exist until about a couple of years ago is just plain wrong.) Second, I hope there’ll be lots of discussion in Gay News, as time goes by, not only about what gay people are doing, but about what they could be doing but aren’t (such as treating one another with more consideration than is often the case; and not talking about “love” when they only mean “sex”).
That’s enough from me for now. Keep right on!
Love and peace,
A group of friends, living in Amsterdam, have formed a group called GAYINTERNATIONAL. We are working at presenting opportunities to gays in England to find contacts in Amsterdam – and the rest of the Continent, in fact — and vice versa. This is being done by sending a newsletter to those interested. We feel that Amsterdam is an ideal centre to operate from, because of the relaxed and informal attitude here, and, at the same time, circumventing the harassment and persecution that such an organisation will find, if it were based in England.
Through this service, Englishmen may in fact safely establish local contacts!
If any of your readers are interested in the group, they should write to us, including an International Reply Coupon for postage, and we will gladly send them information.
BIRMINGHAM B12 9RU
Dear Sisters and Brothers,
I was interested to read the various articles about the Radical Feminists in GAY NEWS Number Two.
I knew nothing about the Spare Rib incident, and it’s good to have a newspaper which brings such events to our notice. But I’m a bit worried all the same that you may not be as much in danger of creating sectarian rifts as you say the Radical Feminists are.
Some of your criticisms are perfectly valid. The Radical Feminists – at least, those who presumably belong in some measure to this group and were at the Birmingham come-together – can be very aggressive in their manner, ready to put down disagreements or even nervous questionings in a manner that is male chauvinist. There certainly is a danger — a right-wing danger – in a pre-occupation with individual change which ignores the necessity of changing circumstances and of reaching out to oppressed sisters and brothers less well placed to explore and liberate themselves than all but a minority. In so far as the Radical Feminists think that everyone in GLF should do what they do, there is an element of the fascist freakiness that we all know so well — “do your own thing, so long as it’s my thing”.
But it does not help any to put down the Radical Feminists in precisely the terms that validate their anger. Your correspondent Simon Manson as well as featured writer Doug Pollard and rather more obliquely Denis Lemon all got at the Radical Feminists because they wore frocks, put on garish make-up and were generally a bit of a sight. That is precisely the language of male chauvinism that the Radical Feminists object to and are put down by. Of course the Radical Feminists don’t look ‘normal’; of course they are going to affront all those who cling to rigid definitions of the sex role with their appearance. It is very important indeed to see that this is an absolutely crucial aspect of gay politics. It is not a question of tolerating the Radical Feminists, but of realising two crucial things — one, that we must learn from them, their difficulties and, in fact, remarkable successes m thinking through and acting out what it means to overthrow sex roles; and two, we must see that the affront they are to straight society is a political action in which we are all implicated and from which in the last analysis we shall all benefit.
The GAY NEWS put-downs of the Radical Feminists are all the more inopportune in that the article by the Radical Feminists themselves (-and why call them a faction so glibly?) implies the degree to which they do put alternatives to violence and chauvinist aggression into their thinking, how they intend not to be drawn into situations where ‘male egos oppose each other’, how they are prepared to go deeper than the make-up and dresses that GAY NEWS so gleefully jibes at.
As I say, there are important arguments to be made about the Radical Feminists, about the role of individual liberation and radical action, about the way in which sex roles are to be broken down. But the arguments are not at the level of attacking the life style of the Radical Feminists from which we have a lot to learn and which is working for us in its impact on the political scene. The argument is more about the need to be generous towards those who have never come out. those who haunt the ghettoes. those who lead double lives, and the need to find ways of living with each other in a movement that is emotional sexual and political. Above all. we’ve still got to learn to love being gay. to love other gay people, and to think of ourselves as we gay people, not isolated individuals who happen to be gay.
I have issue No. 2 in front of me — and frankly I’m rather sad.
I don’t quite see, for instance, the point of what I consider a rather revolting picture on the front of the newspaper. I am opened-minded, and am not in any way a ‘prude’, but I do feel that it was in rather bad taste.
In fact, to be quite honest, the whole newspaper spells ‘G.L.F.’ — an organisation that appears to have one great big chip on its shoulder. The Biograph Review, does it have to be written in such a school-boyish way? Or is it a school fourth-former that actually does write it?
I am all for a gay newspaper, as all gay people seem to be. But we do want one with a pretty high standard of journalism. Gay News is very young — and it will improve – at least I hope it will. This can’t be done without the help of others – that means us – so perhaps it you do print this, it will spur up some enthusiasm.
Offered at the House of Commons
Speaking of anomalies and loopholes in legislation at a meeting called to consider the implications of the recent House of Lords’ decision in the International Times case, Bernard Levin said: “The only thing worth doing is to pass a small simple act… to improve the situation for some people… not to talk of ideal and perfect societies. Half a loaf is better than none”. Will Hamlyn, MP set up the meeting to discuss how parliamentary means could be used to improve the situation, but a GLF member commented: “All Mr. Levin is really offering us is a small nibble”.
Many of those present seemed to feel that traditional democratic processes could achieve very little, particularly, as Raymond Fletcher pointed out: “…it now seems to be the judges who make the law, not Parliament”. “I voted, as I thought, in the interests of a minority when I supported the 1967 act,” said Joan Lestor, MP, “and now I find that, under that act, such things as contact through advertisements can be made illegal.” The heart of the matter is section 8 of the 1967 Act, under which the consent of the Director of Public Prosecutions is not required if the charge is incitement – incitement, in the case of contact ads, to commit acts which are not in themselves illegal if both parties are over 21. Leo Abse, MP, said at the time that he “was not happy” on this point: “Police use of incitement charges may well be open to criticism”. They were certainly criticised at the meeting, as was police activity in other areas, including harassment and spying in connection with cottaging, and selective prosecution under the obscenity laws.
The conspiracy laws were also criticised for their many loopholes – there have been contradictory decisions, some seeming to indicate that if a jury can be convinced by the prosecution that something is ‘immoral’, or a ‘conspiracy to corrupt public morals’, other relevant cases and precedents can be ignored. Bernard Levin said that it was a problem of singling out some actions and excluding them from the conspiracy laws, and that legislation should be attempted which would prevent such decisions as that in the IT case, and also define ‘conspiracy’ much more closely.
Does the present state of the law mean, for instance that a social worker who runs a group, or a counsellor who puts a homosexual client in touch with a gay organisation, is ‘inciting’ people to commit immoral acts? “Phew”, said Michael Butler of the Samaritans, when asked to comment later, “that would make the job of counselling gay people almost impossible. A psychiatrist told me that he could interview and analyse his patients, but if they had no social contacts with their own kind, his job was totally lop-sided and inadequate. The Samaritans’ general policy is that if someone wants social contacts and the counsellor feels it would be useful, the branch should have addresses of groups to which the client can be referred, and he would be given them.”
Other points raised during the meeting itself included the problem of judges who are “out of touch”, particularly with young people, and the general need for “public education”, considered in the long term, to produce a climate of opinion in which legislative improvements could be introduced by sympathetic members of parliament. The need for more control over police activity was stressed, particularly by Bernard Greaves, who quoted evidence of malpractices by Cambridge police, and by the editor of ‘Janus’, who was concerned about police victimisation of some publishers, while others were untouched
Some speakers were unsure that parliamentary action could really achieve anything of value, and felt that “the gay world is moving towards a violent stand, like that now happening in N. Ireland”, and that there was an increasing tendency for homosexuals to come together and not to rely on others to speak for them. “Gay people should live their lives openly, and that will help to change society at the grassroots”.
While some people present apparently endorsed this view, it was felt by others that in trying to improve the present situation, less ideal methods were essential, such as contact ads. and Denis Lemon of Gay News confirmed the paper’s intention to continue running ads. Antony Gray of NFHO said that in his view, advertisements were a comparatively ‘trivial’ issue, and that he felt that increased activity in parliament could really lead to improvements – By the law of averages, he calculated, there must be 30 gay MPs, so “Where are they?” Will Hamlyn, closing the meeting, felt that this might be an under-estimate, but that legislative improvements would, at best, be slow to come, and that there was a lot more to be achieved by individuals coming together and taking action at all levels.
Perhaps one comment on the meeting is “Never mind your half-a-loaf, Mr. Levin – we are going to make our own bread”.
After a happy ending to a court appeal, a serving soldier, James Heath, aged 22, whose home is in High Wycombe, Buckinghamshire, now has to face a Court Martial for allegedly committing ‘unnatural practices’ with 27 year old Carlos D’Almeida. As the law stands at present it is still an offence for a member of H.M. Armed Forces to have anything but strict heterosexual relationships (thus explaining the Armed Forces encouragement of serving men to take full advantage of female prostitutes in the area in which they are stationed). These regulations are stringently enforced in the ranks, although many attachments between officers are generally tolerated if the parties involved are discreet enough about it.
The seemingly happy ending occurred at Aylesbury Crown Court where Carlos D’Almeida appealed successfully against a deportation order, recommended by High Wycombe magistrates on June 7, six months after he was refused entry to this country from Singapore.
The story really begins in Singapore in the June of last year, where James Heath was stationed with the Army. He was introduced to Carlos one evening as a woman and to continue in James’s own words: “We met in a discotheque, and during the evening Mr. D’Almeida told me: ‘I am sorry. I am not all I appear to be.’ I laughed, thinking that it was a normal woman’s reply meaning that she was not an easy pick-up. I was still laughing and then he said: ‘I am not a woman.’
In court James went on to say that they lived together for six months in Singapore, and this year he introduced Carlos to his parents as his fiancée. “We were hoping to get married,” he added.
According to the London Evening Standard, Carlos has now ‘won the chance to discover whether he is a man or a woman after a soldier revealed his affection for him.’ Unfortunately for the couple, the Army has now stepped in and their private lives face further interference and unhappiness because of James’s court martial.
The whole case is now sub judice and apparently The Sun newspaper is being sued by one of the parties involved. Knowing the treatment given to similar ‘delicate’ subjects by that paper, it is not surprising that this should be happening to them.
We of Gay News are not quite sure at this stage of the proceedings what possible help we might be able to give James and Carlos, but we certainly wish them well and hope that they will eventually have a lasting ‘happy ending’ together.
Police are keeping an almost continuous watch on ‘gay’ toilets in Glasgow. They have young police constables in jeans and leather jackets ‘trolling’ around. After dark they have police hiding among the bushes in Maxwell Park. If two chaps as much as sit down on a park bench together they are questioned. If you park your car in certain places your number is taken.
As everyone knows this is a city which is notorious for crimes of violence, no doubt the police find it easier to persecute the persecuted, rather than doing their proper job of preventing the serious crimes, which take place all the time now. It’s no wonder that true criminals never get caught when the police are ‘not available’.
The Rev. Troy Perry, founder of the Metropolitan Community Church, Los Angeles (largest gay Christian group in the USA), will be in London for a week from September 20th. Dates include an open meeting on Friday September 22nd at Holborn Assembly Hall, 7.30 for 8.00pm (Small admission charge at door to cover cost of hall). Watch this space for further happenings, including plans to publish Troy’s autobiography in Britain: ‘The Lord Is My Shepherd And He Knows I’m Gay’.
London Gay Lib’s last dance before the summer break was held at Fulham Town Hall on July 28. There were no arrests, no scenes in the street, and only one small incident inside the hall, when a small group of youths tried to walk in without tickets at about 10.45 pm.
Organisers and management staff reasoned with the ring-leaders, who seemed ready to back down, until one of them lost his temper and pushed a Gay Lib steward. A brief but vicious fight took place between this youth and a roadie from one of the groups, who seemed ready to use more force than the situation demanded. No gays were involved, and they were quickly separated.
The group of youths was escorted out by hall staff, and the management called the police, but this action was nothing to do with the dance organisers. “We wouldn’t call the police” said a GLF steward. “We don’t want anything to do with them.”
“You people are no trouble at all,” commented a member of the staff. “You just want to enjoy yourselves. It’s just these kids with nothing to do. They think they’re being big.”
Gay News asked if other dances attracted similar trouble. “Only the coloured people we used to have here. They had fights among themselves, which you don’t have, and the local yobs used to come round outside. Of course, we had to ban the coloured dances in the end. It would be a shame if that happened to you lot.”
The 300 gays at the dance on Friday would agree, especially as the music and atmosphere were considered by many “the best for a long time”.
Small groups of teenagers were hanging about on the corners and outside Fulham Broadway station at 11.30 pm, but were not to be seen when everyone left promptly at 12.00 pm. There was no trouble, although a panda car and a black maria were well in evidence.
The next dance is scheduled for September 1, at Fulham – let’s hope that the apparently improved situation will be maintained.
Dr John Loraine has recently published a book entitled “The Death of To-morrow”. It caused considerable excitement in that it has a foreword by the Duke of Edinburgh which could be taken as condoning the view expressed by the author that “unless reproductive activities are controlled there can be no future for mankind”. This relates directly to family planning and, by implication, to abortion. In the chapter of the book which deals with the subject and which is headed “Reproduction and the Conventional Wisdom” Dr Loraine also touches on homosexuality although very briefly. He states: “For homosexuality in men and women the conventional wisdom has no truck”. This is somewhat sweeping generalisation although it can be said to be true of a high percentage of public opinion. He is, of course, a Scot working in Edinburgh and the Sexual Offences Act does not run in Scotland. That is something which ought to be put right and it is reasonable to ask what Dr Loraine and others are going to do about it in the light of his fears about reproductive activities. The one thing that homosexuals cannot be accused of, even by the most prejudiced and uninformed of their critics, is increasing the population by over-production.
Dr Loraine asserts that “the monolithic pose of the conventional wisdom with respect to homosexuality will not endure indefinitely. The obsolescency of the approach will eventually become self-evident…”. Here again the relevant word is eventually – when is that to be? Dr Loraine indicates that he is not prepared to predict when he declares “It is evident that a fog of bigotry and prejudice surrounds adult homosexuality. What period of time must elapse before the winds of change finally disperse it?” But winds of change do not blow of their own accord: they have to be stirred up.
In this context it is worth remembering that the Wolfenden Report was published in 1957. That part of it which concerned prostitution was accepted without delay : the part dealing with homosexuality did not receive legislative approval until 1967. Ten years is a long time even in the life of politics. Even then it was left to the back-benchers to initiate that legislation. The Conservatives, on the advice of the late Sir David Maxwell-Fyfe ‘the hammer of homosexuals’ and later of R.A. Butler, expressed the view that public opinion was not ripe for such a change. The Socialists expressed no opinion but were prepared to allow time for the Bill. It is, let it be affirmed, the function of politicians and particularly governments, to guide public opinion and not to be guided by it. And, in this direction, there is still work to be done.
For those who took the trouble to study it the Wolfenden Report effectively destroyed the popular misconception that all homosexuals were, to put it crudely “queers” and “pansies” who tended to model themselves on Oscar Wilde and to dress and behave in an effeminate manner. Society was made to realise that many of the people whom it regarded as ‘regular guys’ in the office, commuting, in the golf club, in the pub, at football matches and who even played games, were addicted to homosexual practices or were complete homosexuals. It also realised that its children could be either homosexual or bi-sexual; which for most parents was a nasty shock.
Opposition to changing the law centred around the declared menace to the health of society, the damaging effect on family life and the suggestion that men who indulged in homosexual practices would instinctively thereafter turn their attention to boys. It was all summed up under the umbrella title of undermining the moral fibre of the nation. After hearing all the evidence the Wolfenden Committee rightly rejected all these arguments and went so far as to say “We have had no reasons shown to us that lead us to believe that homosexual behaviour between males inflicts any greater damage on family life than adultery, fornication and lesbian behaviour”. This led them, amongst other things, to recommend that it should cease to be classified as a criminal offence.
But although the law has been changed, the position of the homosexual, after five years, has not changed commensurately in society. There is still ostracism, harassment, oppression and consequent repression. Beyond the political sphere education in its fullest form is the key to reform. The Wolfenden Committee indicated the true nature of homosexuality and expressed its views as to what should be the position of the homosexual in society. Although these were ultimately accepted by Parliament they have not been reflected in the attitudes of a great many parents nor by the majority of educationalists. Until this state of affairs is rectified there will continue to be hostility and indifference on the one hand and guilt-complex and depression on the other. Education never ceases in life but for some, so far as sex is concerned, it never seems to begin. Consequently fathers feel that it is an attribute unworthy of their progeny and an insult to themselves. Mothers take it as a contribution against their own sex and resent it. There is none of the sympathy nor the affection which is given to mongols and to children who are mentally or physically handicapped. All this is alarming because it illustrates the magnitude of the problems which confront those who want to put matters right and it also explains why society, from a basis of ignorance and prejudice, is still reluctant to accept the homosexual as a first-class citizen.
Sexually we are what we are. How we behave sexually depends to a large extent on upbringing, environment, and our own capacity to exercise self-discipline. Being treated initially as people whose parents are ashamed of them and subsequently as social outcasts is the surest way of increasing the problems of homosexuals and tends to reduce their usefulness to society and, in many cases, induces an unjustified inferiority complex and a sense of hostility to others.
It is time for parents and teachers to face up to realities. Homosexuals are not perverts they are simply different. And there is nothing wrong in being different. Society through its leaders must accept this. The politicians must continue to rectify the position first of all by changing the age of consent which at 21 is absurd. Scotland and Northern Ireland must be brought into line with the rest of the country. The exclusion of the Armed Forces and Merchant Navy from the terms of the Sexual Offences Act must cease. In addition a clear directive must be given to the police with regard to the intentions of that Act. The religious leaders must accept the fact that homosexuality is not a sin and act accordingly towards the homosexual members of their congregations. The Medical profession must carry out the recommendations of Wolfenden that they should study homosexuality more deeply and instruct medical students with regard to it. C.H.E. and G.L.F. must pursue these objectives and seek to influence public opinion in order that they may be achieved.
This is the unconventional wisdom which must prevail over the conventional wisdom which is prejudiced stupidity. To-day there are two societies – the heterosexual in the majority and the homosexual which is in the minority. The time has come to end this divisiveness so that the homosexual element can play its proper part in the daily ordering of things. It is not a question of adjusting the attitudes of two societies but of creating one society.